The Top U.S. Destinations for Movers Aren’t Where You Think

September 4, 2019

The typical home buyer only moves 15 miles from their current residence, but’s Top Moving Destinations analysis shows that metros that offer relative affordability, strong employment, and large boomer populations can entice people to pull the trigger on an out-of-state home purchase. Released today, the list is made up of mostly medium-sized markets, including: Charleston, S.C.; Boise, Idaho; Honolulu; Columbia, S.C.; Fort Myers, Fla.; Portland, Maine; Sarasota, Fla.; Greenville, S.C.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Las Vegas.

Buyers Seek Bargains without Going Too Far

“Home prices have risen for seven consecutive years, far outpacing salary growth. Although interest rates are the lowest they have been in three years, cost has become a deal breaker for many buyers, especially in pricey West Coast metros,” said® Senior Economist, George Ratiu. “But instead of giving up on the American Dream, many buyers have decided to look for a home in medium-sized metros outside their state that offer price relief, and a similar lifestyle.”

Seven of the top 10 moving destinations attracted non-local buyers looking at homes with median prices 3 percent to 34 percent less expensive than their home markets, in Q2 2019. However, these destinations are not necessarily cheap; in fact, they are 16 percent higher than the national median of $315,000. But when compared to home prices in their current metro areas, they feel like a steal. For instance, Boise’s median listing price of $372,500 looks more attractive compared to Los Angeles’s $766,800 and Salt Lake City’s $434,900.

Movers are also looking to stay relatively close to home by seeking out markets that are just a quick plane ride away. Charleston, the No. 1 moving destination in America, is sought out by buyers in neighboring markets of Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta; and New York. Boise, No. 2 on the list, is especially attractive to those in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Sacramento, Calif.

Booming Jobs and Low Taxes Drive up Demand

The promise of high paying jobs has always been a catalyst for buyer demand, but it’s especially true for those considering relocation to a new state. According to’s analysis, the top 10 destinations have an average unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, which is 30 basis points lower than the national average, and 38 basis points below what out-of-state buyers encounter in their home metros.

Sweetening the financial deal for out-of-state buyers are the tax incentives in these destinations. Eight of the top 10 are located in states that have lower overall tax burdens compared to the national average of 8.6, including Cape Coral-Fort Myers and North Port-Sarasota, Fla. with a 6.6 percent overall burden; Boise at 7.8 percent; and the three South Carolina metros- Charleston, Greenville and Columbia at 7.6 percent, according to WalletHub.

Hot Spots Retirees and Vacationers

The majority of the metros on the list are sunny locales that are popular with vacationers and retirees alike, as well as snowbirds escaping the Northern winters. In fact, the average population share of those aged 65-years and older was 19.5 percent among the top 10, compared to 16.2 nationally. The top retiree markets on this list were Sarasota, Fla.; Fort Myers, Fla.; and Tucson, Ariz. whose populations aged 65 years and older accounted for 32.3 percent, 28.7 percent, and 20.0 percent of the population, respectively.

“The fact that the majority of the metros on the list are hot spots for retirees signals a shift in boomer preferences from the expensive cities where they built their careers to the more easy-going feel of vacation communities,” added Ratiu. “Some of them may be initiating the purchase of their retirement home as a second home, while others may be purchasing it in their post-career stage of life.”

Additionally, 7.9 percent of homes sold in these markets are secondary homes, compared to the national average of just 2.7 percent. Fort Myers, Fla.; North Port, Fla.; and Tucson, Ariz. had the highest share of secondary home sales among the top 10 with 17.6 percent, 16.4 percent, and 9.2 percent, respectively.

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